Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

One of the things I hate most is when people talk about shit they know nothing about as though they’re experts. We’ve all witnessed it. And Julia Serano is a woman after my own heart as far as this goes. Because there are certain experiences that need to be lived in order to be properly and fully understood. Here she is calling out all the so-called “experts” on gender and transsexuality for their ignorance and hypocrisies, and you can feel her anger.

So is this a book by an angry lesbian feminist? Yes. But the more you pay attention the more you’ll realize that this is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s very much a good thing. Because one thing I didn’t expect this book to be was sad. To learn about all the ignorance this subject is steeped in and the very real negative effects this has on the great many people living it day in and day out is nothing if not upsetting. If the revelations herein don’t upset you, then I have to wonder how much you really care about this subject, and why then you decided to pick up this book. It should also be said that issues of feminism affect men, and likewise issues of transsexuality affect cis people. We’re all part of this world together and we don’t live in a vacuum.

This is a relatively new kind of gender-studies book in that it’s written by a feminist lesbian trans woman. This is a look not from the outside in, but from the inside out from someone who is in a position to experience discrimination, often perhaps unintentional, due to her inclusion in three different groups. To use the language of Hubbub‘s Emily Cockayne, she is an inpert, as opposed to an expert, as she relates to us her knowledge from first hand experience. She’s incredibly intelligent and makes her points very well, but she’s also completely unashamed of herself, and her personality – and anger – reverberate through the pages. This woman has earned her attitude and the right to speak authoritatively on this subject, and it’s for this reason that I really love this book.

Not only is this book heavily saturated in personality and real-life experience, but it brings to mind issues that many of us have probably not considered, as well as how these issues effect all of us as a whole. Julia Serano opens up and allows us to take a deeply personal look into her life as she experiences it and experienced it during the various stages that she went through on her journey to becoming the person she is today. This might sound especially appealing to those very curious people who want a look into something somewhat “taboo,” but while it’s definitely interesting, it also has a way of deeply humanizing this subject, and in the process showing us how very important it is for this to be done. Julia Serano is not only incredibly smart, but incredibly brave, not just in that she has been extraordinarily true to herself but in that she’s offered us the chance to see things from her own perspective in such an unashamedly honest way. By the end of the book you’ll no doubt see femininity and LGBT* issues from an entirely new perspective, and this to me is what makes this book an utter success.

Have a look at the video below for a discussion with Julia about her book.

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How To Feel Feminine

Partially due to my job, I spend a ridiculous amount of time both online and in front of the TV. It’s certainly not the same as going out and seeing crowds of people in person every day, but in a way, despite the fat ass I may one day achieve, I think it’s better. You’re not likely to go up to people on the street and start asking them what their fashion woes and opinions are, unless you’re a TV host. From those very hosts we get those answers. And one thing I see women mentioning a lot is that they don’t know how to feel feminine. So how do you do that?
I would love to do an article on what masculinity is, and I suspect it has something to do with a very clever combination of chivalry and toughness, but I’m not a man. I can however offer my own thoughts on what it means to be and feel feminine. To me the answer is not much beyond simple luxury; things that feel, smell, and look amazing, to make you feel, smell, and look amazing too. They don’t necessarily cost a fortune or take the amount of time you would need to fly to Paris. Think of the things you already do to pamper yourself, and if you don’t, you poor, poor thing. They include painting your nails (even clear polish is fabulous), silky pajamas, body lotions, and perfume. These are the guilty pleasures that give you an inner glow that projects the simple elegance we all want. They’re all very easy to indulge in, and taking the time out for yourself in itself, even for just a few minutes, is something that will make you feel luxurious. I believe in having the most luxurious life that time and money will allow, and trust me, I feel extremely feminine, and life is all the richer for these little things, at least when you don’t take them for granted. Give it a try. Spend a minute covering yourself in lotion or baby oil as soon as you get out of the shower. Put on matching underwear. Eat some strawberries. One thing will lead to another and soon you’ll be enjoying a whole lot of what you once thought was a huge task.
And now for your comments. What makes YOU feel feminine?